A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

How to Balance Working and Studying

I finally reached that point in the year where I had to accept that a part-time job would be a good idea – my savings were dwindling by the day, thanks in part to endless trips to Bagels and Beans and the draw of fresh gevulde koeken on market day. But the second semester is also even more stressful than the first one: I have my thesis to write, assignments for another module to finish and jobs to apply for so I don’t feel like the world is ending when my education finishes in June.

So, how do you manage to combine the stresses of study with work responsibilities? After working part-time for a month, here are some tips from me. Of course, everyone works differently, and it also depends on what type of job you manage to get.

  1. Don’t take on more shifts than you know you can do.

I have a tendency to pick up any shifts I can, knowing (or at least, hoping) that once I’m paid the stress will all seem worth it. However, this can lead to a very stressful month where you feel like you’re spending all your possible time at work, and not studying for classes or having fun in the Netherlands (which is the reason you came, right?). Only take on as many hours as you know you’ll be able to handle, and learn to say ‘no’ to those offers for more shifts.

  1. Resist the urge to always take it easy on your days off.

Especially when your first paycheck comes in, you might have the urge to reward yourself for all those hours at work with some days off, maybe to go to those places you’ve always wanted to. However, learn to balance your time off evenly with studying and enjoying yourself. If you know you’re going to be working in the evening, for example, try and spend at least a few hours in the morning finishing that essay or reading that novel for class, so you’re not stressing out the day after when you spent the entire morning preparing for work by watching Netflix. BUT, if you have had an especially busy week, do make sure to take some time off from both work and study. Having extra spending money or finishing that essay early isn’t worth being stressed for a whole week.

  1. If you can, get some structure to your work schedule.


This won’t always be possible, but if you’re on a zero-hour contract and can request shifts in advance, try and plan them for the same days every week. This will make it easier to plan deadlines and any other responsibilities you might have around your work schedule.



These are just a few things I’ve realised in the past month or so of working. If you have any more tips for international students trying to balance working and studying, do comment below!

As a side note, if you’re looking to make a Dutch CV in preparation for job-hunting (it may impress Dutch employers if you’ve taken the time to translate it, even if the job itself is in English and you’ve just used Google Translate), I found the following websites were very useful:


Dutch Vocabulary for a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and Cover Letter

How to write a Dutch Curriculum Vitae (CV)/Resume


About Abigail@TheLeidener

I graduated from Goldsmiths in July 2016, and just a week later moved to Leiden to start my Masters in American Studies. This was a huge change from living in the bustling metropolis of London for 3 years, but a very welcome change nonetheless! Leiden also seemed the ideal place to study America, considering it was the place the Pilgrims first took residence from England before setting off for America. So far it’s been great meeting a host of other international students from around the world (including many others from the UK) and I look forward to documenting my time here through writing for The Leidener.

3 comments on “How to Balance Working and Studying

  1. Sophie Jorgensen-Rideout
    March 11, 2018

    Really good advice, especially the Dutch CV resources!

  2. Imran
    May 24, 2018

    Hey, great article! I am currently a student in London and due to start my masters in Leiden in September 2018. I was wondering about the job prospects for non dutch international students? Are there enough English speaking opportunities?

    • Abigail@TheLeidener
      May 29, 2018

      Hi! Thanks for your comment 🙂 I’d say it’s likely that you can find something, even if you have to travel to The Hague where there might be more opportunities. I know in many shops in Leiden they do hire international students, and especially if you learn the basics (hello, goodbye, have a nice day, how can I help you) and make it clear about your level of Dutch when applying I think you’ll be able to find a cafe or retail job pretty easily.

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